A barrier to good communication is assuming that we know how our partner feels at any given time. We take things out of context, misread messages, and sometimes make mountains out of molehills. Assumptions can be very damaging to relationships.
One of the concepts taught to couples in counseling is reality testing or how to check out our assumptions in relationships. If left unaddressed, these misconceptions can lead to greater problems between a person and his or her spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend. They can also cause problems within families as word spreads fast when one or more parties are dissatisfied with their partner.
Assumptions start when one person believes their partner should know exactly what they’re thinking. More alarming than that, the same person thinks that their spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t care enough about them if they don’t acknowledge an unspoken need. It’s a double-edged sword that causes relationship troubles for many people.
Another issue that couples face is thinking that things will be different if your partner did one thing opposed to another. It makes one party feel defensive and halts communication. It doesn’t allow couples to move past problems because both parties feel as if they’re right and the other person is wrong.
So, what does reality testing do? It helps dismantle assumptions. It starts with listening to the language that you’re using with your partner.
If you’re always saying (or find yourself thinking), “Well, I assumed,” you may not be fully understanding the other person’s take on the subject. It always helps to check in with yourself and inquire if what you’re feeling is based on reality or fiction.
Reality testing is active because it invites you to accept the notion that you’re playing a role in a misunderstanding or conflict. Assumptions, on the other hand, are passive because they don’t require effort and put a strain on the best relationships.
By checking out your assumptions, you’re able to communicate more clearly with more positive results. You’re able to maintain your own perspective about a situation and still allow space for compromise. It’s how you’re able to move past things that hurt or irritate you without putting your relationship at risk.